Releasing the Painful Memories of Childhood

“Honestly I wasn’t happy living,”  Grace confesses. “I don’t want to be alive if I’m living in this world just struggling day to day and not accomplishing anything. I’m going to get in my car and whatever happens, happens. I don’t want to be alive. “

Life had always been a painful road for Grace Gonzalez. Her childhood left her feeling worthless.

“My grandfather was a drug dealer and gang leader.  My grandmother was also a maid by day but then she would spend her nights in the bars. My dad  - I just remember him being out a lot. And my mom was always she was just always too busy,” she says.  

Then her sister, Gabriela, drowned when Grace was just six.

“Right before we found her floating in a creek, I have a memory of her coming up to me and asking if she could play with me and the other kids,” Grace recalls.  “And I told her no because I felt that she was too small and I just wanted to be with the older kids. I felt guilty and I felt angry at myself.  So I quickly learned as a child to shut myself off to those feelings and to not feel anything at all.”
But the feelings were still there, eating away at her spirit.  So at age 12, Grace started using drugs and alcohol. By her mid-teens, she was an addict.

“From the time I was small, I quickly felt that I could do no right. Especially after the death of my sister.  And then growing up, I just felt that every time I did something wrong, whether it was my fault or not, I got punished for it.  If this is the life that is destined for me to live, then I’m going to give it all I got. By the time I was 25 years old, I was either going to be dead or be in prison for a really long time. And I was okay with that.  I felt that I didn’t have any value,” Grace says.  

Grace was kicked out of high school at 16 for drug abuse, and left her chaotic home. For the next six years she lived on the streets, landing in jail multiple times for stealing or dealing drugs. Though Grace had heard about God, she doubted He existed.

“I would hope that there was really a God. And that He was real.,” she remembers.  “I would actually, I guess, call out to Him and I would tell Him, “You took the wrong one,” meaning, “You took the wrong sister. Because I’m not doing anything meaningful with my life. I’m a drug addict. I’m an alcoholic, I’m on the streets, I’m hurting people, I’m hurting myself.”

One night when grace was 22, she overdosed.  She later awoke, angry to be alive. Grace then sped off in her car, hoping to end it all.

“I remember feeling so angry and hurt and hopeless,”  she says.  “And I might die and that’s okay. I didn’t care.  It was just about 20 minutes after that I wrecked.  I started flipping on the freeway. And then everything went black.”
A bystander rushed to help and dragged her out of the car.

“Flames surrounding me, I felt a fear in my heart and in my mind that I had never felt before. I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m in Hell and I deserve this.’ And that next moment, a hand or a arm reached in from behind me and snatched me out of there. And when I woke up, I was in an ambulance being worked on by paramedics.  And I thought, ‘I have to give this God a chance.’ And I said, ‘God, help me.’  But when I said it, I meant it,”  Grace states.  “And that’s it. I was out again.  I woke up 10 hours later by myself in a hospital room next to an open window. The sun was shining in. And when I woke up and saw that, I felt as if I literally saw Jesus and that filled me with hope.  ‘And because You saved my life, now You can have it.’”

That was just the first step of a long journey for Grace. Her leg was badly mangled in the accident, leaving her wheelchair bound. Though she began to read the bible and listen to Christian music, she was still addicted. After two years, doctors said amputating her leg was the only option due to infection.

“A few days later, when I went back to the hospital, they said, ‘We don’t know what happened, but your infection is gone. You will walk again.’ And that gave me the hope and I made a decision right there in myself that said, ‘I can trust God,’” Grace recalls.  

Grace could now let God take full control of her life. With her leg healed, she also overcame her addictions. Soon she enrolled in Texas Bible Institute. As she drew closer to God, she felt His love wash away the pain and guilt she carried for so many years.

“My heart was different. I was no longer filled with anger,” she says.  “I was no longer filled with hurt. That had been replaced by gratefulness. And I am the happiest I’ve ever been. And I feel like I want people so badly to get it that this hope is available and attainable for everyone and His name is Jesus.”

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